Arkansas State: No pushover

Sure, Army beat Arkansas State 38-10 last season at Michie Stadium, but expect the Indians to give the Black Knights a better fight at home in steamy Jonesboro. Arkansas State isn't a bad team. In fact, Sun Belt Conference coaches think the Indians are pretty darn good.

Arkansas State, the defending league champs, have been picked to finish second this fall according to a preseason poll of the Sun Belt's eight coaches.The Indians earned 50 votes, just eight fewer than preseason favorite Louisana-Lafayette, picking up two first-place votes. Arkansas State finished the 2005 regular season in a three-way tie atop the Sun Belt standings with Louisana-Lafayette and Louisana-Monroe.

Arkansas State went 6-6 last year, losing to Southern Miss 31-19 in the New Orleans Bowl. Army's victory over the Indians last season was its most lopsided Division I win since beating Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Mass., 49-7 on Oct. 21, 1995.

Arkansas State 2006 Rap Sheet

2006 Record: 6-6
Defensive starters returning: 9
Offensive starters returning: 6

Optimism: A big, strong veteran offensive line returns for 2006. Top receiver Levi Dejohnette, who tallied 43 receptions a year ago, is back.

Hold 'em Defense! The Indians had a good defensive unit in 2005 and return 9 starters. This does not include 6-1, 255 pound linebacker Josh Williams who earned Freshman All-American honors in 2004. He sat out for disciplinary reasons in 2005 but should be back for 2006.

Concerns: The Indians, like Army, will be looking for a new starting quarterback after the graduation of veteran signal caller, Nick Noce. ASU, who struggled last season in the passing department, will be looking to improve from its #95 NCAA ranking in that area. Two Indian defensive lineman who were regular starters in '05, missed some spring practice due to injuries. Will they be ready for Army in September? Only time will tell.


Arkansas State football coach Steve Roberts, right, congratulates Southern Mississippi coach Jeff Bower at the conclusion of the New Orleans Bowl. Roberts hopes to lead the Indians back to a bowl in 2006. (AP Photo/Bill Feig)

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